In which a sleep-deprived Angel explains exactly why suicide attempts suck

Okay. My roommate attempted suicide last Tuesday night. I figure it’s okay to mention this here, because it’s not like anyone from school reads this.

Scenario: I get home from an Alliance meeting about the Day of Silence. It’s about midnight. I see a bunch of empty pill bottles on my bed, and no roommate. I freak out, call a mutual friend to ask where she is, search the building, look for our RA–nothing. Finally, I find the other RA on our floor, who explains what happened, that my roommate is in the hospital, and that she’s going to be fine, at least physically. She brought herself to the RA, so she at least changed her mind.

A friend and I spent the night with her until about 3:45 AM, when she’s transferred to another hospital with a better behavioral ward. I get back to my friend’s room around 4, but I wasn’t able to sleep.

So next day, I go to class. I inform her teachers that she is “in the hospital,” as she doesn’t want anyone to know what happened. One teacher guesses. She’d confided in him. I assure him that she’s physically fine, that she’ll be back soon. I also field questions from people on our floor who saw the paramedics come. Again, I have to lie.

I try to sleep during the day, but I get six thousand phone calls. Finally, night. But I find that I’m really uncomfortable in the room; I keep on worrying about her. Keep on looking at her bed and wondering. I feed her fish, change its water, then go spend the night with my friend Jim. We don’t get to bed until late. He snores. I get maybe 4 and a half hours of sleep.

Yesterday: class and more phone calls. I find that she’s doing pretty well. Her parents know. I can’t fall asleep until 2. I wake up at 6 AM and can’t fall back asleep. Four hours.

Today. My alarm goes off at 8 AM. I smack it and decide that class isn’t an option. I can try to sleep again. But the phone starts ringing again. My mom. A wrong number. Her spanish teacher, who I have to comfort. Twice. Finally, her. She’s ready to be picked up.

I don’t have a car. I call everyone who does in our service fraternity. Nada. I call her spanish teacher from last semester, who she was very close to. Still nada. Finally, after about 3 hours of looking, someone calls and asks how Niki is. I said “she’s ready to come home and can you drive.” he says ok.

So we go to pick her up. And she admits that she did it partially for attention.

God. I am so fucking tired. And I’m pissed and jealous which is such a stupid and selfish reaction to have. You know why? She’s getting the attention. She’s being treated like a hero, a princess…and she’s the one who did something WRONG.

I’m not saying she doesn’t deserve sympathy and caring and help…but jeez, it just sucks so bad and seems so unfair. She stopped taking her meds, she tried to end her life…she was depressed, I understand.

But you know what, so am I. I am what you call cyclothymic, and although I don’t need medication, it sucks sometimes, and I’ve wanted to die. Not recently, but I have. But I’ve never done anything like that. And these past few days I’ve been doing all the right things. And I’ve been worrying my ass off.

And you tell my you did it for attention and it worked, because now everyone is your friend. Me…I did grunt work. I made sure your ass didn’t fail by talking to your teachers. I fed your fish that I didn’t even want in the room. I spent the night at the hospital with you.

You know it is so petty but I wish someone would just fucking recognize that. I wish someone would tell me that I’m good, that I’m special. That someone would give me flowers.

Do I have to kill myself to get attention like that? Do I have to do something so insanely stupid in order to get some fucking sympathy? I’m so fucking tired and nobody cares.

What do I have to do to have someone act like they care about me? Do I have to start worshipping the devil again? Do I have to starve myself or mutilate myself or poison myself to get a little bit of affection?

This is what suicide does to people. It hurts those around you. It hurts them so bad, and they worry about you, and THEIR lives end up sucking, but they get NONE of the sympathy you get!

FUCK!

I’d say your roommate is very lucky to have you as a friend, and that your actions were more than laudable. The world needs more people like you, and I hope you come through this all OK. I’m also glad that your roommate is OK, and I hope that neither of you has to go through anything like this again.

{{{Angel of the Lord}}}

Fitting username. And I’d wager you got MAJOR karma points.

Angel, if I knew which name and address I was sending them to, I would send you flowers. It sounds like you handled it beautifully. Sometimes a depressed person needs to abdicate responsibility and have someone else take care of everything, and you came through. I hope your roommate can do the same thing for you if you need it someday. (Not that I want anything bad to happen to you…you know what I mean.)

{{{AotL}}

Angel, you’re good and special. And here are some flowers.

Angel, (Fitting user name, as we all have seen.) I once went through depressive phases (early adolescence, a bad time for me on all fronts) and I have been suicidal. I have never attempted it (the one time I was close I couldn’t get the keys to my dad’s gun cabinet to work right) and I suppose I have no idea what a ‘real’ depression is like, but I can give my own perspective from the view of a rational and intelligent human being (which you certainly sound like right now).

Looking back on it, one motive of mine stands out. One basic mental pattern underlies all of my worst depressive phases: A craving for attention. A deep, completely irrational need to get noticed. No matter who it hurt. No matter what happened. I had no long-term planning anymore. I had no way to judge which of my urges, which of my desires, was rational and which were completely lunatic. I had no compass, just a drive to gain attention. It embarrasses me now, looking back on it, and I can only say in my defense that I could not control myself. I never once wanted to die. I was just deeply hurting and I needed to work it out with myself.

I don’t know why I’m saying this, except that it feels good to see it in type and parsed into words I can understand. It feels like the deeply depressed me and the rational me were two different people, and I can somehow see through both eyes. I have both perspectives.

The only perspective I don’t have is the perspective of someone who has had to go through another’s depression. I never have. I think these lyrics are apropos right now:

I’m feeling a bit of that right now. I don’t know if I’d be strong enough to do what you have done. I don’t know if I could take another into my hands and heart as you have done. I hope I can. I know I’ll end up with a suicidal friend (such has been my luck, good and bad, to find friends among the outcasts) and I hope I have the inner strength to save that life.

So keep it up. You are doing the right thing. You will always have my sympathy and my attention.

You’ve done a truly good and decent thing, Angel of the Lord. Be sure to take care of yourself.

Angel, I can understand why you’d feel the way you do. It’s the Barbara Cooper complex, from an 80’s sitcom called One Day at a Time with Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips – never mind, you’re too young to know what I’m talking about.

The only thing I can offer you from my 36 years of experience is that people who do things like this are apt to be unhappy most of their lives. Because unless they can figure out why they act the way they do, and heal themselves spiritually (as it sounds like you have done), they will never find happiness. And being happy is the only thing that matters.

The people who are rallying around your roommate are doing so because they are trying to be helpful. But, trust me, if roomie’s behavior continues like this, their attention will wane quickly and they will distance themselves from her. Because people like your roommate are emotional sponges. They take and take, leaving others exhausted, but they rarely give anything back.

I had a friend when I lived in NYC whose brother was like this. Evan was at the point where he had to disconnect himself emotionally from his brother, because his brother was just too much work. Eventually Evan’s brother did succeed in committing suicide. Evan’s reaction was one of relief.

So, please, don’t envy your roommate the attention. Project what her life will be like in a few years, esp. after she gets older and older and past the time where these outburst are considered somewhat normal, and you will see that her life is nothing to envy.

Your friend definitely needs therapy, Angel, but you put your finger on the reason for the “attempted” suicide. It was a call for attention, or, more accurately, a call for help. I don’t believe there is really any such thing as “attempted” suicide. If a person really wants to be dead s/he gets dead. Period. Occasionslly an “attempted” suicide turns into a real one because the “victim” miscalculated and wasn’t caught in time.

I have considered it myself a few times in my life, but never attempted it, because I realized that what I really wanted was not death, but a change in my situation. I know that if I decide to take my own life I will leave no room to be saved at the last minute.

Any reasonably intelligent person can figure out how to kill him/herself quickly and efficiently. But someone who wants to needs to talk to a professional. You stuck by your friend in the crisis. Now stick by her and make her get help.

I didn’t figure this out on my own–maybe I would have, I don’t know. She admitted it. And she’s getting help.

Thank you everyone for the kind words, but I don’t deserve them. I just did what anyone else would do, and that doesn’t make me an angel or whatever, even if y’all think it does. It just makes me a stupid softie…

I have wanted to post in this thread for quite some time, and even started to once or twice, but could never figure out what I wanted to say until just now. I hope it’s not too late to contribute.

Angel, first and foremost, I want to echo the sentiments of everyone who has posted singing your praises. The username is truly fitting - and I know this from off-the-boards experience. For you to call yourself “a stupid softie” is completely inaccurate. You are compassionate and understanding, even when others would have given up. I know - everyone had given up on me at one point, and you helped me believe, and I am eternally grateful. I am priviledged to have you as a friend, as are your roommate and everyone else you consider to be one.

You did a wonderful thing for your roommate, and you should feel proud. Karma will come through for you in the end.

Your Friend,
Dirty Earthworm

Angel, the best kind of person in the world to be is one who does the right thing, even when it’s inconvenient, painful, and unnoticed. Congrats.

It’s a wonderful thing that all these resources are being thrown at your roommmate. She clearly needs them. However, your school should also be providing services to you. It’s stressful to have the person you are sharing a room with try to off themselves, and it isn’t any easier when YOU are the one responsible for informing her teachers, fielding the phone calls, etc.

I hope this never happens again, but if it does, you need to go to your RA and dean of students and request some help. THEY should be the one to inform faculty (and it’s a lot more credible that way, too) and they should be able to help you (her) with transportation to the hospital. And they also ought to help you by telling YOUR professors you’ve got this going on, if you so wish. If htere is every a time an administration should rally, this is it. It’s ridiculous that you should be dealing with this on your own. In fact, you might want to drop a letter to your dean of students to tell them about your difficulties along with a suggestion that they do more outreach with roommates who are in a similar position in the future. And I believe you should talk to someone about the emotional strain–I am sure your school has some counseling services.

Angel, I will echo some of the sentiments already expressed. You are beautiful for the things you’ve done, and you are beyond special. If I could afford to send you flowers, I would… pick some wildflowers for yourself and pretend they’re from me. And if there is ever anything at all I can do, my contact info is in my profile… I’ve been in similar positions on both ends of that situation before. But please don’t keep all of this to yourself. Surely your school has some sort of counseling available? Your RA should know who to talk to about it, and IMHO should have offered it to you right away. Best of luck with everything; you have my sympathy, my empathy, and many good thoughts and positive mojo are being sent your way.

“Go Angel Go!” chant the cheerleaders.

Hmm, and I was just enjoying a bleak mood based on the premise that all people were selfish gits out for number one. Why’d you have to go and spoil it? Wah! I enjoyed that mood!

Angel, what you did was NOT what many people would do. You may not feel special, but you are. You have been a rock of support in a sea of wackiness.

That said - YOU need help, too. Too often in our society no care is given to the caregiver. Absolutely, this should NOT have been your responsibility but obviously no one else stepped up to the plate (even those that should have) and you performed admirably. Give yourself credit.

Next time it happens (if it does) BE SURE to ask for help yourself.

And many many many hugs. Your compassion will serve you well in life. Just don’t forget to care for yourself as well as others.

Dear Angel:

I applaud your intentions 100%. You sound like a good soul. Just don’t let your roomie manipulate you into taking responsibility for her life. If she ever pulls anything like this again, don’t lift a finger to help her (except for the fish – it’s not HIS fault!) One “pseudocide” attempt is on the very outside edge of being understandable. Any more, and you’ll know she’s a manipulative bitch.

If I sound like a bitter person who has been burned herself – BINGO! And, like you, I don’t need the stress either. I am bipolar, and have more than once allowed myself to be pushed close to the edge of my endurance by a “friend” who craved a big scene which would force people to rescue her. As a person who would like very much to throw myself and my problems into someone else’s lap, I can state from personal experience that the knowledge that people won’t put up with that kind of shit goes a long way toward ensuring rational behavior. If I could get the kind of payoff your roommate got, I’d probably be pulling suicide stunts myself. Don’t be fooled into enabling her behavior.

Above all, do whatever you have to to make sure you get enough sleep. If you are “cyclothymic” now, you should know that stress and sleep deprivation greatly increase the likelihood of you experiencing a full blown manic episode. I found that out the hard way.

Sorry this isn’t the most eloquent of postings, but it’s sincere.
Take care and get help for yourself.

A few years ago, I had a similar experience - a neighbour of mine overdosed three times on antidepressants; each time, he knocked on my door and told me he’d done it… It was part of a pattern of attention-seeking self-destructive behaviour, which ultimately got him kicked out by the landlord and sent into psychiatric care, where he did (fortunately) get the help he needed.

And I’ll be honest here: the third time I heard that knock on the door in the middle of the night, I knew what it was… and, for a minute or two, I seriously thought about not answering.

Dealing with these “cries for help” is not easy. It’s draining, nerve-wracking, and, if you get more than one, it seems terribly futile. Angel of the Lord, you’re a good person, and you did the right thing. And, if your account of all the crap you had to put up with stops even one person from trying the same stupid stunt - then you’ve done another good thing.

All I can do is give you a virtual hug and second Cranky’s advice, but I’ll do that.

{{{Angel}}}

Life has unfairly stretched you too far this week. But you did good, and I’m glad there are people like you in the world.

Now if you’re still a mile behind on sleep, you might want to take one of Cranky’s suggestions now: go to your dean of student life, explain that you’re still wiped out from dealing with your roommate’s crisis week, and that you need some breathing room to catch up.

Then while you’re roommate’s in classes, unplug the phone and go to sleep. You’ve earned it, you deserve it, and no one should keep you from it.

I had a friend who would threaten suicide every night. We’d talk every day, and when I had to leave (because it was late, because I had plans, for whatever reason), he would threaten to kill himself.

I spent more than a year sleeping very little and with damn near no social life because I was there to talk to him during every single one of his suicide threats.

Eventually I couldn’t stand it anymore, and the last straw came on a day that I had particular plans to go out and see some people who I had been neglecting for a long time. I avoided a conversation with him all day, but he managed to catch me and when I said I had to leave, he threatened to kill himself.

This time I told him to just do it. Stop fucking threatening me and go do it. Told him I didn’t have time for someone without the balls to put his words into action. Turned around, walked out the door and did not look back.

Had no idea what I would find the next day, but I think it turned out for the best. He never spoke to me again. Bitterly hates me to this day for having turned my back and told him to go through with it. He despises me because I told him to ‘shit or get off the pot.’

But, he’s alive. No longer threatening or even thinking about suicide.

Of course everyone who knows us looks upon me like an evil bitch for what I ‘did to him’. But you know what, I did all I could in trying to make him feel better. And you have done way more than you ever had to to help your roommate. Take care of yourself now. It’s your turn.